Berlin, Germany, June 14, 2008 - For the third time this season and the 41st-time in 216 events since 1987, four different countries will be represented in a SWATCH FIVB World Tour "final four" after teams from Brazil, Germany, Spain and the United States won elimination matches here Saturday at the US$600,000 smart Grand Slam.
Joining the top three-seeded teams in the semi-finals at the first of six Grand Slam events on the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar are 17th-seeded Pablo Herrera and Raul Mesa. The young Spaniards gave the European country two-straight weeks of "final four" finishes on the international Beach Volleyball circuit as the smart Grand Slam concludes Sunday with the semi-final and medal matches.
Other teams advancing to the semi-finals of the 12th annual smart Grand Slam were top-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers, second-seeded Julius Brink/Christoph Dieckmann of Germany and third-seeded Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos of Brazil. The Americans and Germans placed third and fourth, respectively, at the 2007 SWATCH stop in Berlin while Emanuel and Ricardo were fifth.
Herrera and Mesa, the 2002 SWATCH FIVB world champions for players under the age of 21, will play Dalhausser and Rogers, the 2007 SWATCH FIVB world champions. With the Americans holding a 2-1 edge in the FIVB series with the Spaniards, Dalhausser and Rogers defeated Herrera and Mesa 21-18 and 21-18 in smart Grand Slam pool play Thursday.
Emanuel and Ricardo, the reigning Olympic champions and 2003 SWATCH FIVB World champions, will challenge Brink and Dieckmann in the other semi-final Saturday morning. The Germans have won six of the 11 FIVB matches with Emanuel and Ricardo, including three victories this season in the Czech Republic, Italy and Spain where Brink and Dieckmann reached the gold-medal match each time.
With Inocencio Lario and Adrian Gavira Collado netting Spain's first SWATCH FIVB World Tour medal last week in Poland with a second-place finish in Stare Jablonki, Herrera and Mesa have now upset teams from Brazil, the United States and Germany in the smart Grand Slam elimination bracket after winning only one of three pool play matches earlier in the week.
"This is great for our country to have two different teams in a SWATCH semi-final in consecutive weeks," said the 25-year-old Herrera, who claimed a gold and silver medal in 2004 with Javier Bosma for Spain's last first SWATCH FIVB World Tour podium placements before last week. "After defeating three very strong teams, we now face the world champions in the semi-finals tomorrow."
With a 21-16 and 21-16 win in 44 minutes over seventh-seeded David Klemperer and Eric Koreng of Germany, Herrera and Mesa have now advance to their second SWATCH "final four" in 40 starts. Earlier Saturday, the Spaniards eliminated sixth-seeded Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal of the United States 13-21, 21-17 and 20-18 in 63 minutes.
To earn a match on Saturday's smart Grand Slam schedule, Herrera and Mesa defeated two-time Berlin SWATCH winner Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes of Brazil 21-18 and 22-20 late Friday afternoon. The 12th-seeded Marcio Araujo and Fabio won the 2005 Berlin event when it was the SWATCH FIVB World Championships followed by a 2007 gold-medal win over Klemperer and Koreng.
Dalhausser and Rogers advanced to the SWATCH semi-final with a 12-21, 21-18 and 15-10 win in 55 minutes over 14th-seeded Jonas Reckermann and Mischa Urbatzka of Germany, while Emanuel and Ricardo eliminated ninth-seeded Emiel Boersma and Bram Ronnes of the Netherlands 27-25 and 21-15 in 50 minutes. Brink and Dieckmann scored a 21-19 and 21-18 win over fourth-seeded Penggen Wu and Linyin Xu of China in 48 minutes to earn their smart Grand Slam "final four" berth.
The women's smart Grand Slam concluded Saturday with top-seeded Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States winning their third SWATCH gold medal in the German capital with a 21-18 and 22-20 win over seventh-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China to share the $43,500 first-place prize.